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  • Writer's pictureDave the physio


Shoulder Impingement is a very common condition in the body that can affect daily function and your ability to do important tasks like carrying the grocery bags from the car or reaching to the top shelf.

Shoulder impingement occurs when the structures inside the subacromial space of the shoulder become injured/irritated. Common symptoms include pain and weakness, especially during overhead movements of the shoulder (moving your arm straight up above your shoulder).

For more information about shoulder impingement, check out our past blog post here

Strengthening the shoulder muscles is the most important way of rehabilitation from a shoulder impingement injury.

Here are 5 exercises you can use to strengthen your shoulder and get back to doing what you love.

1. Banded external rotation in neutral

This is the most basic of the 5 exercises and is appropriate in the early stages of rehab when you may feel more pain initially. This exercise maintains the least strain on your elbows and shoulder. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked in close to your body and maintain a constant stretch in the band all throughout the movement.

2. Elbow supported external rotation

This exercise is the next step up from using a band, as it requires slightly more strength to lift the dumbbell. Your elbow is propped on a surface slightly lower than shoulder height. It is important to keep your shoulders down (refrain from shrugging) and focus on having a smooth range of movement when lifting the weight up and lowering it down.

3. Row + external rotation in (incline) prone

Your back muscles also play a role in controlling your shoulder, and this exercise allows different muscles to work at the same time to keep your shoulder stable and strengthen the deep and superficial muscles acting at the shoulder. Pay close attention to keeping your shoulders down as in the last exercise, and holding the row position whilst externally rotating the shoulder. Slow and controlled movements are crucial to doing this exercise, and all the exercises here as a matter of fact.

4. Bottom up kettlebell press

This exercise is more suited to the later stages of rehabilitation, as it has a greater strength and stability demand than the previous exercises. Be sure to begin at a weight that is comfortable for you, but is challenging enough to do 8-10 reps with perfect form. Press the kettlebell upwards, keeping your elbow in front of and above your shoulder as you go.

5. Shoulder press

This is a graduating exercise to train strength and control of your rotator cuff muscles under healthy stress. This exercise builds overall strength of your superficial muscles including the deltoids and triceps and helps your shoulder move in a stable and reinforced way. Be sure to pay attention to your breathing in all the exercises - especially in this one - by inhaling when lowering, and exhaling when lifting. Sitting upright, keeping shoulders at an angle and chest out, also helps with keeping perfect form.

If you need any assistance/advice, do feel free to book a consultation with one of our expert physios today!

Happy exercising!

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